Porteous top qualifier for final

Wanaka freeskier Nico Porteous stamped his claim as the gold medal favourite in the junior world...
Wanaka freeskier Nico Porteous stamped his claim as the gold medal favourite in the junior world championship men’s freeski halfpipe competition, after qualifying for the final in top spot. Photo: Iain McGregor/API
There has been no Olympic hangover for Nico Porteous.

Back competing on his home mountain of Cardrona on Saturday, the 16-year-old freeskier dominated the junior world championship halfpipe qualification, with two huge runs garnering scores of 92.20 and 95.60.

The result means Porteous will be the last skier to drop in to the pipe come finals time tomorrow  and  he is heavily favoured to grab a gold medal.

Despite the high qualifying scores, Porteous said there was plenty more to come.

"There’s still quite a bit more left in the bag for the final."

"I’m happy with the way I skied which is always good. That’s the only thing you control —  how you ski. You can’t control how everyone else skis."

The Winter Games mark Porteous’ return to competitive skiing since his astonishing bronze-medal winning run at PyeongChang in February, and he could not be happier.

"It’s good [to be back competing]. I got a bit of a buzz up the top [of the halfpipe]. I got a bit of adrenaline flowing through me, a bit of nerves which is always a good sign.

"I was really happy to land my runs and it feels really good to be back in the comp scene."

He will be joined by 11  other skiers in tomorrow’s final, including fellow Kiwi Ben Harrington, who qualified in sixth position.

Harrington said he was "really stoked" to finish sixth in qualification, and knows he can better his score of 80.40.

"I can definitely clean up my run a lot more, I know that for sure. I’ve got a bigger switch hit I can do and we’ll just see how it all goes."

In the women’s freeski qualification, there were no surprises as Estonia’s Kelly Sildaru claimed top spot and will be the odds-on favourite to claim her second gold medal of the championships.

American rider Toby Miller, who has been dubbed  the next Shaun White, topped the men’s snowboard qualifiers, with a score of 95.60.

In the women’s division, Lulu Jia took pole position, with a score of 85.60.

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